This painting was originally exhibited with a quotation from Alfred Tennyson's poem Come not when I am dead. The woman on the left is dying of consumption and a broken heart. The man is her errant lover. He has returned to her side but too late for them to enjoy any time together. He hides his face in shame at his deceit. She shrinks from him, clearly disturbed by his return. Windus emphasises her illness by contrasting her pale clothes, lank hair and pinched features with those of the rosy-cheeked woman in a rich purple dress.